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Passage Study Method


          This method involves looking a passage in the Bible.  The number of verses in the passage can vary from two or more.  This method will employ steps that are similar to those in the devotional study.

          Usually, I will “discover” a passage while reading the Bible or while studying another scripture.  Once you have a passage in mind, then use the following steps to enhance your study.

          Again, I would recommend that you record what the Holy Spirit teaches you in your journal.


1.     Pray that the Holy Spirit will open the scriptures and teach you what He wants you to know.


2.    Read the passage several times.  It can be very beneficial to read the passage using different translations.  As you read, develop a general understanding of the passage as a whole.


3.    Summarize the passage.  Be sure to include people, places, and key events.  Don’t worry about including insights or interpretations as they will come later.


4.    Ask yourself questions.  Go over each scripture in the passage and, using your summary, ask yourself questions over each verse, if possible.  If an answer comes to you as you are writing the question, record that answer in parentheses.  The questions can be factual or personal.  Also, record any insights that go along with these questions.


5.    List any words that need more careful study using your Strong’s.


6.    Look to see if there are any cross references, parallel passages, footnotes, or commentaries.  Read these to gain further insight and record what you learn.


7.    Write another summary, incorporating all you have learned from your questions, word studies, and cross references.


8.    Write down what this passage has meant to you and how it has affected you. 


9.    Finally, how are you going to apply what you have learned?  Also, share your insights with someone who has ears to hear.

Passage Study Method


Example:  John 3:1-8


Summary:  A Pharisee named Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night.  He doesn’t ask Jesus a question; instead, he acknowledges that Jesus is a teacher and that Jesus must come from God because of the miraculous things He has done.

          In response, Jesus tells him that no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.  This confuses Nicodemus because he can’t understand how someone can be born a second time.

          Jesus responds that we must be born of the water and the Spirit.  Jesus tells Nicodemus that he should not be surprised at what He is saying.  Jesus tells him that the Holy Spirit is like the wind.  You know it is there but you can’t tell where it has come from or where it is going.




  • Verse 1:  What exactly is a Pharisee?
  • Verse 2:  Why did he come to see Jesus at night?  (He didn’t want to be seen.)  Why does he call Jesus, Rabbi?  How does he know Jesus performed miracles?  (He may have been following Jesus at a distance.)  Also, he acknowledges that Jesus comes from God, but does he believe Jesus is the Christ?
  • Verse 3:  Jesus’ answer does not seem to have anything to do with Nicodemus’ statement.  Why does Jesus give this answer?  How can we see the kingdom of God?  What does it mean to be born again?
  • Verse 4:  Knowing what I know now, Nicodemus’ response seems rather silly.  But, would I have understood Jesus?  It is a good question:  how are we born again?
  • Verse 5:  Why does Jesus begin His answer with “I tell you the truth”?  What does Jesus mean when He says we must be born of water and the Spirit?  What does it mean to enter the kingdom of God?
  • Verse 6:  I understand that flesh gives birth to flesh in that women give birth to babies.  However, does this have another meaning?  How does the Spirit give birth to spirit?  Also, why is Spirit capitalized the first time but not the second?
  • Verse 7:  Why is Nicodemus not to be surprised?  (Is Jesus suggesting that he should already know the answer?  If so, why doesn’t he?)
  • Verse 8:  Why does Jesus use the wind to describe the Spirit?  What qualities of the wind does Jesus use?  What does Jesus mean that those born of the Spirit will be like the wind?


Words to look up in Strong’s:


·         “See” in verse 3

o   to perceive with the eyes

o   to perceive by any of the senses

o   to perceive, notice, discern, discover

o   to turn the eyes, the mind, the attention to anything

o   to pay attention, observe

o   to experience any state or condition

o   to know

o   to know, i.e. get knowledge of, understand, perceive


·         “Born” again in verse 3

o   of men who fathered children

§  to be born

§  of women giving birth to children

o   metaphorically

§  to engender, cause to arise, excite

§  in a Jewish sense, of one who brings others over to his way of life, to convert someone

§  of God making Christ his son

§  of God making men his sons through faith in Christ’s work


·         “Birth” in verse 6

o   Same as above


·         “Blows” in verse 8

o   to breathe, to blow


Cross References or Footnotes:


          This passage does has no parallel passages.  However, it does have references and footnotes.

          Verse 2:  Reference Acts 2:22 and 10:38

          Verse 3:  footnote:  “born again” can also mean “born from above”

My Findings:


Verse 1 - Pharisees

SEPARATISTS (HEB. persahin, from parash, “to separate”). They were probably the successors of the Assideans (i.e., the “pious”), a party that originated in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes in revolt against his heathenizing policy. The first mention of them is in a description by Josephus of the three sects or schools into which the Jews were divided (145 B.C.). The other two sects were the Essenes and the Sadducees. In the time of our Lord they were the popular party (John 7:48). They were extremely accurate and minute in all matters appertaining to the law of Moses (Matt. 9:1423:15Luke 11:3918:12). Paul, when brought before the council of Jerusalem, professed himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6-826:45).

There was much that was sound in their creed, yet their system of religion was a form and nothing more. Theirs was a very lax morality (Matt. 5:2015:4823:3142325John 8:7). On the first notice of them in the New Testament (Matt. 3:7), they are ranked by our Lord with the Sadducees as a “generation of vipers.” They were noted for their self-righteousness and their pride (Matt. 9:11Luke 7:3918:1112). They were frequently rebuked by our Lord (Matt. 12:3916:1-4).

From the very beginning of his ministry the Pharisees showed themselves bitter and persistent enemies of our Lord. They could not bear his doctrines, and they sought by every means to destroy his influence among the people.


As a Pharisee, Nicodemus would have known the Word and all that was acceptable to the Jews.  He would be used to being in a position of authority.  He obviously would have been aware of the conflict between the Pharisees and Jesus.

Therefore, for him to come to Jesus was a big step.  Obviously he wanted to know more.  He was not satisfied with the opinions of others.  He wanted to speak to Jesus personally.

Also, now I can see why he would visit Jesus in the night.  It would have been extremely unpopular for him to be seen talking to Jesus, the enemy of the Parisees. 

At first we might judge Nicodemus as being a coward, but actually he is showing great courage and a strong desire for the truth.


Verse 2 - Rabbi

Rabbi, a title used by the Jews to address their teachers (and also honour them when not addressing them).  Despite his upbringing, Nicodemus recognized Jesus as a teacher.  Nicodemus must have known that Jesus had something to teach him.  This is not a widely held view among experts.  Nicodemus seems to be genuinely searching for answers.

In stating that Jesus comes from God, Nicodemus is acknowledging Jesus’ authority over him.  Looking at his position, I think Nicodemus believed Jesus could be the Messiah.  He was not going to get answers from his friends, so he goes directly to Jesus.  This actually shows great faith.

Also, Jesus does not condemn him for coming at night.  Jesus answers his questions.  Jesus understands our situations.  He loves us and wants to draw us to Him.  He welcomes Nicodemus and proceeds to teach him.


Verse 3

          Jesus’ response does not seem to address Nicodemus’ statement.  However, Jesus looks at the heart.  He knows what is going on in Nicodemus’ heart.  As usual, Jesus gets right to the point.  He knows something is keeping Nicodemus from truly “seeing” who He is.

          Many times we fail to “see” people for what they are.  We bring our prejudices, preconceived ideas, and wrong teachings, and these can keep us from seeing.

          This brings us to what “seeing” really means.  Jesus was talking about more than the sense of sight.  He was talking about seeing with our eyes, hearts, and minds.  He wants us to “see” and “know” the truth.  We can’t “see” truth or justice or mercy like we can see nature.  We need to be sensitive to them in order to see them. 

          For this to happen, Nicodemus had to be reborn.  He had to shed the old ways and look with new eyes.  If Nicodemus was not willing to do this, then no answer of Jesus’ would have made a difference.  So, part of being born again means letting go of the past.  We need to let go of past ideas and convictions and trust God.  He will teach us through His Spirit.


Verse 4

          Nicodemus’ question may seem simple, but it actually reveals a faith and a desire to know more.  He does doubt Jesus’ words; instead, he wants to know how to go about it.  Nicodemus was not embarrassed to admit he did not understand.

          How many times do we allow our pride to get in our way of understanding Jesus?  How willing are we to ask questions that others may scoff at?  Yet, these questions are vital to the building of our faith. 


Finish this passage.  Then look at John 6:1-15